Petrotrin workers are confident they will get the “balance of percentages” as they are prepared to roll up their sleeves and work harder to seeing the State enterprise earn more money to afford higher wages, says union leader Ancel Roget.
The president general of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) was speaking to the media just after 4 p.m. yesterday after 30 hours of talks with Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus and Petrotrin officials.
Speaking to the media after signing an agreement with Petrotrin which stated both parties agreed to an interim payment of five per cent payable immediately at the next payroll cycle and conciliation would continue at the Industrial Court. The interim increase applies to the collective bargaining period of 2011-2014.
The agreement also stated the backpay will be paid over a mutually agreed period and based on agreed production/performance triggers to be determined and agreed upon. It was further agreed conciliation talks would be completed on or before February 28 this year.
Roget hailed this as a “tremendous achievement” for the start of negotiations and the union looks towards negotiations to “recover” the balance of percentages.
The OWTU has called for a ten per cent increase.
Roget said the discussions did not focus only on wage negotiations but also on bringing Petrotrin up to a greater level of efficiency and ridding the company of corruption which contributed to the company being in the position it is today.
Petrotrin has potential, he said, noting that in the past five years the company has contributed $60 billion to the Treasury and people who say Petrotrin is a drain on the economy should take note of this.
Roget boasted it is the workers who kept Petrotrin running despite the company suffering from poor management and being plagued by corruption and they deserve to be compensated.
He said the strike action was called to remind the country of the importance and contribution of the Petrotrin workers.
Questioned on the backpay, Roget maintained this will not cost the Government a cent as it was agreed all outstanding backpay accrued will be dealt paid over a three year period as the company earns more revenue.
He expressed confidence the negotiations will move forward as the workers are committed to putting Petrotrin on a pathway to “take off” and realise more than it is realising today.
He said once they “buckle down” and tackle the issues, Petrotrin can well pay the wage increases.
Roget added Petrotrin is in dire need of ramping its own indigenous crude oil production and if it can import less and produce more of its own crude, the company can save more.
Asked whether there could be job cuts at Petrotrin in light of the increased wage, Roget said “absolutely not”.
He said for Petrotrin to be able to deliver on increased production it ought to take a critical look at areas of manpower shortage.
Prior to the agreement being signed yesterday, Roget had taken issue with Petrotrin's management. Asked if he still held that view, he responded: “I am not satisfied at this point that management style will change.
“We are still with that view there at the top, people at management including the president who ought not to be occupying that position simply because of the belief that he does not have the capacity to take Petrotrin forward at a time when Petrotrin needs good leadership.”
Asked if the union does not achieve its goal with respect to ongoing wage negotiations if there would be another strike threat, Roget said ?a strike will not be on the table, not in this regard, but a strike is never off the table where OWTU is concerned”. —Anna Ramdass